Introduction to Investigating Illicit Finance training course
The deadline for applications is Monday 22 July at 09h00 BST
You do not need to have a financial background to apply but we consider it important when selecting candidates to see evidence of your investigative experience. Class instructions will take place in English.
Over three days, you will be shown how to investigate corporate accounts, offshore activity and corporate corruption. We will show you where to find documents, how to analyse them and other practical tools to help uncover financial secrecy.
We will also demonstrate how you can secure those involved in your investigation by improving your risk assessment and security skills.
A combination of hands-on training and guidance from senior practitioners will give you the basis to investigate financial corruption as well as offering the opportunity to network with other journalists and activists.
The course aims to help participants understand:
- The building blocks of the offshore world
- How to access and interpret company accounts
- Where to access other company information
- The methodology behind the ground-breaking tax avoidance investigations by the journalists who conducted them
- How to investigate and report corruption stories
- How to track the international policy agenda relating to illicit financial flows
- How to keep your research safe.
Investigative journalists following the money often work with sensitive information that some people and organisations do not want to see publicised.
So keeping you, your data and your sources secure is paramount.
This is why during the second section of our training, Free Press Unlimited will focus on advanced digital security techniques, including encryption, secure communication and methods to stay “under the radar” during investigations. We will cover:
- Device security, how to keep one’s equipment secure
- Online security, how to safely operate online
- Mobile security, how to safely use digital equipment on-the-road, including telephones and other devices
- Social media security, how to safely use social media for research and publication
Bursaries are available for working journalists and activists who are based in Africa, Asia and Europe. Bursaries cover visa fees, travel and accommodation.
Due to the limited number of bursaries, journalist applicants will be selected on their demonstrable investigative journalism prowess. As part of your application we will ask you to supply no more than six links to your work
Activists will have to demonstrate some economic justice research and campaign experience. As we tend to be over-subscribed some candidates may be placed on a waiting list for subsequent courses next year.
HOW TO APPLY
To apply, please fill in this online application form. Please do not copy and paste entire articles into the form. Where possible, please provide links or a few lines summary of the article plus date of publication. Choose no more than six examples of your work.
The deadline for your application is Monday 22 July at 08h00 BST. We aim to infirm successful participants by Thursday 25 July 2019.
(Subject to minor alteration)
Day One: Monday July 1 – FINANCE
09:15-09:30 – Introductions
09:30-12:30 An introduction to help you understand the roots and history of offshore, its scale, the techniques used to avoid, evade and launder, and policy responses and relevant institutions.
13:30-18:00 Understanding accounts
- Executives motivation
- Director & Auditor Reports
- The three main sections of accounts – P&L, Balance Sheet and Cashflow
- Accounting policies such as revenue recognition
- Bringing it all together
Day Two: Tuesday November 5 – FINANCE
9:00-10: 15am How to access information from:
UK Companies House
The London Stock Exchange, the US Securities & Exchange Commission, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong stock exchanges
Tax havens around the world
10:15 to 12:30pm Now it’s your turn! Working in teams, we ask you to access key financials from a company. And then we’ll ask you to share your findings.
13.30-14:30 The principles and key concepts of international taxation
14:30-16:00 How multinationals reduce their tax bills in African countries
16:15- 17:15 How you can piece together a tax investigation
17:15 – 18:00 Get your head together: how to think like a financial investigator
Day Three: Wednesday November 6 – FINANCE
09:15-10:30 Money laundering and corruption investigation methodologies
10:45 – 12:00 Identifying assets and verifying individuals using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram plus cool tools.
12:00 – 13:00 Investigating public sector contracts
13:00 – 13:45 Lunch
13:45 – 15:00 Investigating extract industry companies
15:15 – 16:00 How to take your audience with you when it comes to reporting on finance. Plus working on cross-border stories.
16:00 – 17:00 Working together and possible stories
Thursday November 7 – Digital Security
Registration from 9am onwards for a 9.15am start.
Morning: Raising security awareness through the practice of risk assessment as a methodology to properly identify mitigating tools:
- Case study: fossil fuel extraction in Petronia
- Assessing the risks of a journalistic investigations
Afternoon: Building a consensus in the room around fundamental concepts, namely privacy and anonymity:
- How to think about security, privacy and anonymity
- Communication safety: confidential email and private messaging
- External communication and public outreach
- Security checklist
Day Five: Friday November8 – Digital Security
Morning: Demystifying technology underlying defensive tools, namely encryption and password management:
- Situational awareness, precautionary measures
- Good passwords are the basis for digital security
- How to think about encryption
Afternoon: Addressing misconceptions regarding to the limits of popular tools such as Tor and VPN:
- Securing your devices, securing your investigation
- Security checklist (cont.)
- Conclusions & work together (Q&A)
- SAB Miller’s tax avoidance in Ghana, Associated British Food’s tax avoidance in Zambia
- Tom Bergen’s award winning Reuters investigation into tax abuse by Starbuck, the coffee chain here.
- Here is a summary of the Finance Uncovered cross-border investigation into Africa’s biggest telecom company involving four African journalists who took our course.
- Reports from TJN on Price of Offshore Revisited
- Simon Bowers ICIJ Paradise Papers article on Nike
This training is being delivered by Finance Uncovered and Free Press Unlimited as part of the Money Trail consortium, which also includes Journalismfund.eu and Oxfam Novib. The Money Trail consortium is offering a total of six training sessions for journalists in Abuja, Jakarta and London. Three trainings have already taken place in London, Jakarta and Abuja. We also offer a large number of grants for cross-border stories on illicit finance. Check Money Trail’s website for more information.